Meet Diane Skocdopole And Her Fiery Horse Sonic
Meet Diane Skocdopole And Her Fiery Horse Sonic
Meet the reigning Canadian Professional Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year, Diane Skocdopole, and her fiery, multi-talented barrel horse Sonic.
From cheering for her husband in the grandstands to making her own trip down the alley for the Canadian Finals Rodeo, Diane Skocdopole made her presence known in 2017. She was the CPRA permit champion, rookie of the year, and eventually finished out the finals as the fifth-ranked barrel racer in Canada.
Fast forward to the 2018 season, and the Big Valley, Alberta, cowgirl is continuing those winning ways as she heads to the Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede as the No. 7-ranked barrel racer in Canada.
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“I started barrel racing when I met Dale,” Skocdopole said. “But I hadn’t really done it growing up at all. Just jackpotted different horses here and there, then ended up amateur rodeoing.
“I had a pretty nice little gelding that taught me lots, gave me lots of experience before I got Sonic ready to compete.”
JG Hectors Pizzazz, aka “Sonic” is a 9-year-old sorrel spitfire. Skocdopole bought the horse as a 2-year-old from some friends in Nebraska, with only a quick picture of the horse to confirm that “she would do” before she was loaded on the trailer and hauled to Canada where she’s been her “chargey self” since day one.
“She’s all there, really strong, can’t wait to go,” Skocdopole said. “She’s a bit of a dragon in the alley because I think she just wants to get out there and get running. She just keeps moving the entire time in the run, just tries really hard—the anticipation almost kills her to get in and go do it.”
It was the mare’s performances at jackpots and amateur rodeos that made Skocdopole wonder if she could hold her own at the professional rodeos, so in the spring of 2017 they decided to test that theory.
“With Medicine Hat, Camrose, and Coleman—they’re indoors and she’s always been a little stronger indoors—so I thought well we’ll just get started,” Skocdopole said with the idea of returning to amateur competition when hat fired up in May.
“So I thought lets just get a few runs in before, and then it ended up she ran away with things and made me commit to buying my card and going last year.”
The pair finished out the season with enough money to earn Skocdopole the coveted Rookie of the Year title and head to their first Canadian Finals Rodeo, a dream that many wish for but never achieve in the event that has one of the highest membership numbers of the association.
Photo of Skocdopole taking her victory lap during the first performance of the 2017 CFR.
Not only did Skocdopole and Sonic prove they could make it to the pinnacle event of Canadian professional rodeo, but they proved they deserved to be there by winning the first round and going on to finish fifth in Canada her first year.
“It was overwhelming for sure,” she said of her first CFR experience. “It will be hard to top that whole feeling, the first time to take it all in and have some success there was incredible. I don’t know how to top it again, other than you get that craving and you just want to go back and try it again, there’s no doubt!”
Not only does this mare have talent as a barrel horse, but she’s also been used as a heading and tie-down roping horse, as well as helping out with ranch duties at home.
The mare even has a few pro rodeo dollars her name before she ever entered the arena as a barrel horse. Skocdpole’s husband Dale—who is a multi-time CFR qualifier in the team roping and tie-down roping—snuck her away for a couple summer rodeos a few years back and saw some success.
“When she was 5 or 6—before he had gotten his new black horse—he needed a horse to go to a couple rodeos so he took her to Medicine Hat and Bonnyville that weekend and I think he won third on her at medicine hat heading,” Skocdopole said. “So he snuck her away for one weekend and he actually made it pay; it was worthwhile. So she has earnings in both events, which is kind of cool.”
The ability she’s also shown in the roping pen has prompted both her husband and son to make some plans to one day use the horse at the CFR — but in a roping event rather than the barrel racing.
“In the back of my mind, it would be awful cool for her to be able to make it to the CFR in one of the roping events—whether it’s with Coy or Dale—I think that would be the ultimate proof that this is a true, awesome horse, to be able to make it in both events.”
For now, she remains on the cloverleaf in the hopes of qualifying for the Canadian Finals Rodeo’s debut in Red Deer. Year two on the CPRA trail means there are some expectations that weren't there on year one, but Skocdopole is just taking it one run at a time.
“I struggle with the word goal,” Skocdopole said. “I just kind of let’er roll, kind of wherever we get to. Of course, you always want to get back to the CFR—that was incredible—and especially with it being in Red Deer this year, it’s a little closer to home and it would be awful fun to get to that one.”
Skocdopole is well on her way to that goal with $14,426.35 earnings this year, which sits her in the No. 7 spot in Canada. The reigning rookie of the year will be the first barrel racer out in the Saturday performance at the Dawson Creek Exhibition and Stampede this weekend, hoping to add more to that total to ensure her second birth to the CFR.
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